OT, IoT, DataOps and Lumada

By Hubert Yoshida posted 09-06-2019 16:24

What is the difference between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT)? In the past, IT dealt with information, while OT dealt with machines. IT managed the flow of digital information while OT managed the operation of physical processes and the machinery that was used to carry out the process. While OT data was originally analog, much of it has become digitalized, and once digitalized it is being connected to the internet, and being combined with Information systems, not only for better monitoring and control of the operations of physical OT processes, but for the creation and innovation of new IT/OT  or IoT opportunities.

Think of the old analog meters that were used to meter our home electrical consumption. A meter man used to come out to each house every month to read the meters. Just by converting from analog to digital the electrical consumption could be transmitted to the power company and the billing could be read remotely through the use of IT systems. This could be referred to as digitization.

Once the electric utility could get real time reporting of electrical consumption, they could better balance the electrical load and also advise the customer on how they could manage their home consumption and vary the rates to incent consumer behavior. This could be called digitalization.

Digital tranformation could then happen through combination with other technologies and business models. Brooklyn Microgrid (BMG) is a peer-to-peer energy marketplace for locally generated, renewable energy.  BMG seeks to harness the buying power of Brooklyn residents by having them participate in a simulated energy marketplace. Brooklyn Microgrid aims to show regulators that Brooklynites care about their community's energy future.  The simulated BMG marketplace will demonstrate people's willingness to pay for locally generated, renewable energy from roof top solar panels. The peer to peer energy market is based on blockchain. If you live in the area, you can go to their website and signup as a consumer or prosumer (producer and consumer)

However, OT data is very different from IT data and requires the use of DataOps to make it useful for integration with IT data. At the most basic level, OT refers to technology that monitors and controls specific devices and processes within industrial workflows. OT hardware and software is usually designed to do specific things: control heat, monitor mechanical performance, trigger emergency shutoffs, etc. Typically, this is done through industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) which used different protocols and networks then those used by IT. Most OT systems were also used in closed systems which made them less susceptible to hack attacks. So, they lacked the governance and security practices that are required by IT. Often times passwords are not changed, and software upgrades were not consistently tracked and applied. However, that is changing quickly as OT joins the internet and is quickly becoming exposed to the threats that IT has been experiencing.

IT and OT have historically been separate parts of the same organization. Few OT people have ever been in a data center and even fewer IT people have been on a shop floor. Enterprises now have the opportunity to create new efficiencies and innovative new opportunities by applying the intelligence and disciplines of IT to the physical assets of OT systems just as in the example of the Boston Microgrid.

DataOps has a key role to play in the integration of IT, OT and IoT. DataOps will enable the collaboration of IT and OT people and disciplines. It will provide the tools and platforms for the data integration, data curation, cybersecurity, and compliance of IT and OT systems. Hitachi is addressing this through our Lumada platform. Hitachi has built Lumada using the deep domain expertise developed over 108 years of OT experience combined with 59 years of IT experience,  

Since the purpose for OT is to monitor and control machines, Hitachi has used their experience in OT to develop asset avatars to connect the software with the hardware. At Lumada’s core is an asset avatar, a computerized version of a real machine that can monitor and effect changes on the physical machine. We collect data, create an asset, capture, analyze and secure data to help businesses visualize data of the physical asset through a digital avatar.

This Lumada IoT platform has dynamic design features, rich analytics, and robust asset management capabilities including:
  • Lumada foundry:Offers foundational services to ease deployment on-premises and in the cloud, as well as cyber security, microservices and support features.
  • Lumada edge:Allows any variety of data to be easily ingested, transformed, and analyzed in close proximity to physical assets.
  • Lumada core:Provides asset registry, identity and access management and simplifies the creation of asset avatars.
  • Lumada studio:Delivers predefined widgets to simplify the creation of dashboard applications; issues alerts, notifications or just straight-through processing.
  • Lumada analytics:Blends OT and IT data to uncover patterns with powerful analytics, machine learning and AI.

The age-old divisions between IT and OT are blurring. There is an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to change the world for the better. The power of IoT can be an enormous game changer for social innovation. The example of a peer to peer microgrid and energy marketplace could be implemented in an impoverished country where their only asset may be the hot sun. They could create energy to light their homes and run their commerce without the expense of building a national grid. However, as with anything else that can create change, the combination of IT and OT can create a greater target for bad actors. DataOps can play a key role especially in the area of cybersecurity.

1 comment



09-30-2020 10:22

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